The battle for Rally Sweden is on snow or not 

The WRC is ready to face its second appointment of the 2020 calendar, the 68th edition of the Rally Sweden which is starting today and until the 16tth of February. The celebration of the race has been under threat until last week because of the lack of snow but, in the end,

it was saved thanks to a drastic measure which involved shortening it by almost half its length. The four-day programme has been left intact but the length of the race has been chopped down from 300 to 170 kilometres and the number of stages has been reduced from 19 to 10.

Unusual weather and lack of snow aside, Rally Sweden is expected to be a very uncertain and exciting race. The shortening of the distance will mean that any mistake could be fatal for the contestants’ aspirations.

Given the circumstances, this could become a much faster rally than usual, with the uncertainty over of the state of the asphalt at every stage will have a tremendous impact on the outcome.

Regarding this, one of the biggest questions – and worry – for the teams is knowing how the spiked tyres are going to behave in such particular circumstances. 

 

As for the strictly sporting matters, Thierry Neuville arrives at Rally Sweden after winning in Monte-Carlo and thus he will have the difficult task of defending the lead while starting in the first place.

Meanwhile, his teammate and defending champion, Ott Tänak, will still be getting used to his new car, the i20 Coupé WRC, which he hasn’t been able to test properly in a race setting after the horrific accident he suffered at the inaugural race. 

The third member of the team from Alzenau will be Craig Breen, a first-class substitute driver. The Irishman will be taking the wheel of the third South-Korean missile at Rally Sweden after Sébastian Loeb’s poor performance in Montecarlo. 
Toyota Gazoo Racing is facing the Scandinavian appointment with the most numerous of teams. Their original line-up is made up by French champion Sébastien Ogier, the second competing driver with the most victories in Rally Sweden (3), Briton Elfyn Evans and Finnish debutant Kalle Rovanperä.
For the occasion, they will also be joined by a fourth car driven by Japanese racer Takamoto Katsuta as well as by the private (but Toyota sponsored) contestant, Jari-Matti Latvala, onboard a fifth Yaris WRC
Finally, M-Sport Ford will try its luck with a 100% Finn line-up, a nationality that traditionally tends to do well at the Scandinavian race. At the wheels of the two Fiesta WRC will be Esapekka Lappi and Teemu Suninen

The route of Rally Sweden 2020

As mentioned above, the route has been reduced to 170 kilometres divided across 10 stages, half of which will take place in Norweigan territory. Given the exceptional circumstances, the proper competition has been moved to Friday. Thursday’s super special at the Karlstad hippodrome has thus become a sort of a second shakedown after the one in the morning.  

Both the Friday and Saturday routes will follow the same itinerary after the original layout was split into two different days in order to make the most of those stretches of road which were shown to be in the best condition. 

The final stage of this mini Rally Sweden will be a double pass of the Likenäs special (21,19 km) before the closing Power Stage.

 Images: Rally Sweden. 

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